The Sacrament of Holy Orders

“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1536)

The Priesthood

 St. John Vianney said, “The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of Jesus Christ.” Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, men are called to receive a special grace of the Holy Spirit, that empowers them to continue the saving presence of Christ in his Church. A priest is configured to Christ the High Priest, Teacher, and Pastor, who is called to give his life for his flock. As a parish, we must continue to pray for our priests, and pray for an increase in priestly vocations. For without the priest, there is no Eucharist, and without the Eucharist, there is no Church.

 Young men who feel called by God to service in the Church as a priest can become a diocesan priest or religious order priest.

A diocesan priest is ordained to serve the local church in which he is ordained. For example, a priest who is ordained in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is ordained for service within this diocese. He is under the authority of the local ordinary. In the case of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, that would be the Archbishop.

A religious order priest is a member of a religious community, such as the Franciscans, Augustinians, Jesuits, etc… An order priest is not ordained for service in a specific diocese, rather, he is called to serve wherever his community serves in the universal Church. The type of service he engages in depends on the charism and mission of the religious community to which he belongs.

For any young men who feel called to the priesthood, check out this inspirational video
We encourage you to talk to a parish priest about your possible vocation. Also, you can contact the:

Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood
100 East Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
(610) 667-5778

The Diaconate

 The Second Vatican Council restored the ancient order of the diaconate “as a proper and permanent rank in the hierarchy” (Lumen Gentium). Like priests, men who are ordained deacons in the Church receive the spiritual character that Holy Orders imparts. The deacon’s role is one of service. “Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity” (CCC #1570).

 There are two types of diaconates in the Church: Transitional Deacons and Permanent Deacons.

Transitional Deacons are those men who are ordained deacons, but who are going on to become priests. Hence, their diaconate ministry is one of transition. The Transitional Diaconate is a part of the normal progression to the priesthood.

Permanent Deacons, on the other hand, are those men who remain deacons for the rest of their lives. Hence, their diaconate is permanent. Men, both married and unmarried, may become Permanent Deacons in the Church. However, deacons are not permitted to marry once they are ordained. Therefore, to be a married deacon, a man must be married prior to his ordination. Should his wife predecease him once he is ordained, he may not remarry.

 Men, both married and unmarried, who feel a call to serve the Church as a deacon should discuss the matter with a parish priest or permanent deacon. For more information, visit the official website of the Archdiocesan Department of Permanent Deacons, or contact them directly at the address below:

Department of Permanent Deacons
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
100 East Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
(610) 664-2213